Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners were dealt a major blow after the Airports Commission dismissed plans for Boris Island airport in the Thames Estuary.
The Commission announced today that it would not add Boris Johnson’s plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary to its shortlist of options.
A feasibility study of an inner Thames Estuary airport concluded there were "substantial disadvantages" that collectively outweighed its potential benefits.
Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said: "There will be those who argue that the commission lacks ambition and imagination. We are ambitious for the right solution. The need for additional capacity is urgent."
The rejection of the Mayor of London’s proposals means the only options to increase capacity by 2030 are to add an additional runway or extend the existing northern runway at Heathrow or add an additional runway at Gatwick.
After the decision was announced, Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said Sir Howard did not listen to Londoners, only giving weight to the voices of big business, airline bosses and the owners of Heathrow.
Lord True said: "The report says one reason to rule out the estuary was that local authorities did not support it.
"Well, by the same token, that should kill bigger Heathrow then, for this local authority is implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion. And we are not alone. This report fails Londoners dismally."
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia is cautioning ministers against further expansion of Heathrow Airport warning it would “deal a devastating environmental blow to millions of Londoners”.
He added: “If Heathrow had never been built no one would now be advocating it as a suitable site for a huge new airport. In our view it exceeded its limits a long time ago. It would be absolute folly to allow it to expand any further.
“Our opposition to a bigger Heathrow does not mean that we are against additional airport capacity in the south east. On the contrary we fully accept the economic case and agree that opening up additional air routes to other parts of the globe is good for growth and good for Britain’s economy.
“The issue for us is the absolute necessity of choosing the right location. If the Thames estuary option cannot proceed then allowing the expansion of Gatwick makes better sense than cramming ever more flights into Heathrow."
Hacan chairman John Stewart said the Airport Commission’s decision makes it clear the choice for expansion is now at Heathrow or Gatwick but said he did not believe Mr Johnson would give up on his idea.
He said: "The idea of an island airport is likely to be floating around for some time yet.
"Johnson remains an implacable opponent of a third runway at Heathrow and has reservations about the value of a second runway at Gatwick."
But campaign group, Back Heathrow, said the decision not to pursue the estuary airport, nicknamed Boris Island, was a major victory for thousands of residents in west London but said the UK still has a problem because Heathrow is "bursting at the seams".
Rob Gray, campaign co-ordinator at Back Heathrow, said: "The UK’s only hub airport might have dodged a bullet from the Mayor of London but a slow death awaits if it is not allowed to expand. The Airports Commission has said no to Boris Johnson but for the sake of local jobs and UK prosperity, it now needs to say yes to growth at Heathrow."
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